Saturday, June 20, 2009

"Judge Not" in Proper Context

Matthew 7:1-5 is the beginning of the wrap-up of the Sermon on the Mount. If it is taken as a stand alone passage, it loses the qualifying context in which it is recorded.

By that, I mean that Matthew 5 & 6 go into great detail describing characteristics of godliness and attributes and actions that a follower of Christ should pursue in order to "be ye therefore ("in this way") perfect ("complete, whole, fully developed")." Those two chapters lay out what KIND of person a believer should be striving to become and some of the ways that such an effort will be manifest to those around them. THEN, after laying out how to strive to become, Jesus IMMEDIATELY adds:

"Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, even so shall ye be judged."

He then talks about motes and beams and ends by talking about hypocrisy.

Think about that context and what it means.

He's NOT talking about judging the correctness of what people say - about making an intellectual or emotional decision about whether or not something makes sense or someone can be trusted or whatever. He's saying, essentially:

"I just laid out what each person should do to become like my Father. That is a personal journey that each believer must undertake. HOWEVER, I'm not giving ANYONE permission to judge anyone else as that other person navigates his or her own path. When that happens, INEVITABLY hypocrisy occurs, since we can't know what that other person truly is capable of becoming in the here and now - and we INEVITABLY condemn others for faults we also possess. So, simply judge not others' journeys along their own individual paths, even as you make "normal" judgments about other things you simply must judge as a result of being human."

My take away is that Heavenly Father loves the drug addict or the hippie or the ultra-conservative LDS member (or anyone else) every bit as much as He loves me - and that He will reward those who reach Him in the 11th hour every bit as much as He will me even if I reach Him in the 1st or 3rd or 7th hour. It's all about letting go of the idea that I'm special in comparison to anyone else - in recognizing that I'm just as much of an inconsequential nobody as anyone else who needs grace and forgiveness AND that I'm just as much of a glorious god in embryo as anyone who stands and speaks for the Church in General Conference.

"All are alike unto God" is the essence, and until I stop thinking I'm better than those who don't see things as I do I'm violating the spirit of Matthew 7:1-5.


Matthew said...

"He will reward those who reach Him in the 11th hour every bit as much as He will me even if I reach Him in the 1st or 3rd or 7th hour."

How perfectly put. Your insights, as always, are so valuable, Ray. Thank you.

Kalola said...

I truly appreciate what you posted. After reading through some comments on two message boards (which I can only term as the "Battle of the Boards"), I needed to read something uplifting.

I looked up the scripture reference for "all are alike unto God" and found it comes from the Book of Mormon.

2 Ne. 26:33 For none of these iniquities come of the Lord; for he doeth that which is good among the children of men; and he doeth nothing save it be plain unto the children of men; and he inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile.

Thank you Ray.

Carol said...

Thanks for the post. I agree with everything you wrote. Living is a state of acceptance, mercy, kindness, and love invites the Spirit, the fruits of which are peace and joy. I believe God wants us to forgive others (including ourselves) so that we can experience happiness--not to make our lives miserable or hard.